Tag Archives: be holy

May 7; First Things First

2 Samuel 5:13-16, 13:1-5:6; I Chronicles 145:3-7, 3:4-9

Amnon committed a sexual sin with his sister Tamar. What he did to her was vile and inexcusable. There should have been severe consequences for his behavior. But we don’t read that David, his father (and Tamar’s), said or did anything to Amnon.

Did David remember his own sexual sin he had committed with Bathsheba? Did the fact that the king had taken many women into his own bed prevent him from taking a stand against the sin Amnon committed?

Years ago I had a friend whose 18 year old daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My friend was not happy about it, but she threw up her hands and said to me, “How can I say anything? I did the same thing when I was 18.”

I wonder if she was giving her daughter permission to commit EVERY sin she herself ever committed, or just that one? I’ve come to believe that having committed sins in our past, then repenting and experiencing God’s forgiveness for those sins, gives us every right to speak up. I’d go so far as to say it gives us the responsibility to speak up. David took the easy, the comfortable way out and kept silent.

It angers me that Amnon was allowed to go on with life as though nothing had happened. Yet Tamar, the victim, ended up living in her brother Absalom’s house, “a desolate woman.” For whatever reason, Amnon’s sin was never addressed by David, and Amnon never repented.

Well it angered Absalom, too. Because two years later, Absalom had his brother Amnon killed. Yet another example of someone committing a sin to pay back a sin. When will we learn? What we see is another sin that is never addressed.

Absalom takes off and hides in Geshur. Good riddance, right? I mean the guy murdered his brother. Nope. Scripture tells us David “mourned for his son every day.” But even mourning his son’s absence didn’t prompt David to confront the sin. I believe that’s why, when the woman from Tekoa came to David, she could easily convince David to take Absalom back.

I mean, she invoked the name of God, so what she said must be true, right? “Send for poor Absolom, Bring him home. Accept him. You’re like an angel of God, David. You’ll do the right thing,”

So David, without asking God what he should do, invites Absalom home. Sounds like the Christian thing to do. I mean, who are we to judge?

What is glaringly missing from this account is any repentance on the part of Amnon or Absalom. Amnon died without asking for forgiveness. And Absalom doesn’t admit guilt, doesn’t ask for forgiveness for the murder of his brother.

Yet we read that eventually, David welcomes Absolom with open arms and kisses anyway. We will read more of this story, and see how embracing an unrepentant sinner will effect David and his entire kingdom.

Folks, welcoming sinners into the Church body is as destructive as David welcoming Absalom into his home. I believe Scripture is clear that repentance HAS to come first. The church that embraces sinners (who in reality are God’s enemies), the church that accepts sin, and refuses to keep the fellowship holy, is doomed for destruction. I know this is contrary to what most of us believe because it sounds so harsh, so unloving. But in reality, it’s the only loving thing to do.

I believe with all my heart that churches aren’t dying because of the hymns they sing on Sunday morning, or the lack of fancy technology, or a foyer with no coffee shop. Churches are dying because of sin in our midst. God will not bless sin. God cannot be present where sin is allowed to exist. Making our churches a comfortable place for sinners to come is counterproductive. That has never been what church was intended to be.

I think the account we see here of David’s life is an example of what happens when sin is allowed to exist without being addressed. I see Scripture telling us we need to keep the Church holy, undefiled, an exclusive organization for believers only. But I also believe Scripture is clear that we who are members of God’s Church need to be out there loving on people who haven’t dealt with their sin, spreading the Gospel, leading people to the Savior, making disciples, THEN inviting them to church.

First things first. And repentance has to be the first thing.

 

 

October 19 – Defiled

Matthew 15; Mark 7

The Pharisees were upset because Jesus’ disciples weren’t washing their hands before they ate. Jews had been taught for centuries that eating before carefully washing, defiled them. Now here were the people closest to Jesus breaking that tradition.

I like Jesus’ response: Neglecting the commandments of God, you hold to the tradition of men. (Mark 7:8)

Jesus went on to explain that the thing which defiles a person is what comes out of a sinful heart, not by what someone eats. What defiles a person is a heart fed on evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. (vv 21-22)

Too often we get hung up on the outward appearance. A person who wants to appear religious can go to church, may even give generously to charity, pray in public, or be quick to say, “Praise Jesus.” But that same person might be ingesting raunchy TV shows, ungodly websites and music lyrics, laughing at dirty jokes. Their conversation reveals their heart’s condition when they use the language, tell the jokes, and think nothing of it. They look like a traditional Christian. But are they truly living according to God’s commandments?

Jesus isn’t against tradition. But He does speak against holding on to tradition for tradition’s sake, and ignoring the Truth of Scripture plus nothing. Does a person raise his hands during the song service? Ok. Does someone pierce their ears, or nose? Ok. Does your church use the organ instead of a praise band? Ok. Do you prefer the NIV over the King James version of the Bible? Ok.

I think Jesus is asking us to look past the external and check our hearts condition before our Holy God. When you look inside yourself, do you see the holiness God demands of you?

Or are you defiled by what is there?

Dear God, Sometimes we waste so much time on the non-essentials. I think Satan loves when we debate music styles. Or debate the length of a woman’s hair. Or how often we should celebrate Communion or whether our denomination is identified in our church’s name. Satan must love it when we begin to sound like Pharisees. Lord, I pray that Your people will be more concerned about our hearts’ condition than about anything else. It’s what You said was more important to You. It’s what ought to be more important to us.

 

March 9 – Clear The Land

Numbers 33&34

Be honest. Do you have a secret sin you are holding on to? An ungodly TV show that makes you laugh? An internet site that you find interesting although it dishonors God? Someone you refuse to forgive? Drinking alcohol to excess even if its just within your home? Anger? Jealousy? An obsession with a loved one?

When we become Christians, God demands that we confess our sins – all of them – and repent. That means we lay it all out there, drop those sins at Jesus’ feet, and walk away clean.

God told Israel that, when they went into the Promised Land to take it for themselves, they needed to drive out the inhabitants. He warned them not to let anyone stay because if they did, those who remained would end up being “pricks in (their) eyes and thorns in (their) sides.” He said those people would trouble the Jews in the land God had promised to them.

That same God is saying to us today to get rid of all sin. All of it. If you insist on holding on to something – even if you think no one on the earth knows what you are doing – it will end up biting you.

God doesn’t demand we be holy to prevent us from enjoying this life, our own Promised Land of fellowship with Him. He demands holiness of us so that we can enjoy life to the fullest!

No thorns in our sides to take away our joy. No pricks in our eyes to distract us and cause us pain.

There is no sin I can think of worth holding on to if it prevents me from receiving all God intends for me in this life while I wait to join Him in the next.

March 7 – Don’t Let Up

Numbers 28-30

It sounds, from what I read today, that during the seventh month there was a continual sacrifice burning for ten days. It says the smell of grilling meat and baking bread was a soothing aroma to God. I like it, too.

Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Giving my heart to the Lord was something that happened once. I asked Jesus to forgive me, and He did. But what I read today concerns a daily choice, a constant decision to offer myself, my body, my mind, my dreams, my desires, to God as a soothing aroma, a spiritual act of worship.

Paul says he dies daily. (I Cor 15:31) And that is what speaks to me from this Old Testament account of continual sacrifices.

I want my life to be a constant source of joy for my Heavenly Father. I want all my choices to soothe Him. And I never want to let the fire of my devotion die out. I want to be like that continual sacrifice burning on the altar. May I never let up.

It’s Not A Common Thing

The book of Hebrews is rich with mind-boggling, heart-thumping truths. I challenge you to read the whole thing, slowly, intentionally, asking God to reveal Himself a little more clearly as you do. I know He will. He’ll convict you, and lift you up in the process.

In chapter 10 of this amazing book, the writer tells us that if we willfully sin after receiving God’s grace, there is a “certain fearful expectation of judgment…” He says, if the Old Testament Jews rejected Moses’ Law and died without mercy, how much more so we who consider “the blood of the covenant by which (we are) sanctified a common thing.”

Let me say that again. If the Old Testament Jews rejected Moses’ Law and died without mercy, how much more so we who consider “the blood of the covenant by which (we are) sanctified a common thing.”

Do you consider what Jesus did on that cross, the suffering He endured, the blood He shed, the humiliation, the death, a common thing? No big deal? A nice gesture like giving someone a puppy? Then why act like you do? Why willfully sin after you have received His grace?

The writer tells us it’s like trampling Jesus under our feet when we take sin lightly.

Ezekiel, in chapter 22, said God couldn’t find any man to stand in the gap, to build a wall on behalf of the land so God wouldn’t destroy it. The picture I get of someone standing in the gap is one with arms stretched out to both sides.

Like Jesus on the cross.

God is serious about sin. God hates sin. God punishes every sin. And every sin results in death. Every. Sin.

Jesus didn’t die on that cross only to say 2000 years later, well maybe homosexuality is really no big deal after all. Or, if you are spiritual you don’t really have to accept Jesus. God hasn’t changed his mind in 2015.

God is as serious about sin today as He was in the garden with Adam and Eve. He’s spelled out exactly what sin is and what the consequences are.

Death without mercy.

Have you ever sinned? Lied? Lusted? Hated? Cheated? Got drunk? Used coarse language? Even just once? Then you are condemned to die without mercy.

Unless you allow Jesus to stand in the gap. Unless you accept the fact that Jesus died without mercy on your behalf. Unless you repent and accept His loving gift of grace. Unless you are as serious about sin as He is.

Heavenly Father, I pray for your people today. May we be as serious about sin as You are. May we hate sin, run from it, stand against it. May we honor what Jesus did on the cross every day with the choices we make. You command us to be holy as You are holy. May you find us eager to accept your holiness, and to live our lives obviously different from everyone else. I, for one, never want to treat what Jesus did on the cross for me as though it’s no big deal. I never want to trample my Savior under my feet by choosing to sin. I want to show you with every breath how much I appreciate You for saving me.